Hl Mencken Essays Short Essay On Green City Clean City
This means that Mencken’s “Sahara of the Bozart” extends far beyond the boundaries of the South.
Hence, the “impulse that deserves respect” in the North is often imperfectly understood as Mencken’s normative contrast to the Southern Sahara.Other writers can be listed: Thomas Nelson Page, Augusta Evan Wilson, George Cary Eggleston, Mary Johnston. Evetts Haley’s “Plutarchian biographies”) recall a lost way of life with nostalgia.But more than that, they offer a model they believe to be superior in most respects to the present.In fact, this desolate picture, however accurate it may or may not have been, is much the same view as that of the post-bellum Southern plantation romancers.Using his own irreverent style, Mencken argues, in effect, that the 20th century South remains a frontier for Northern conquest and reconstruction.These writers, in other words, offer an implicit rebuke of contemporary reconstruction by offering a “counter-reconstruction” mingling “moonlight and magnolias” with elegiac defiance.Mencken’s famous and misunderstood essay is rightly seen in that tradition.Down there a poet is now almost as rare as an oboe-player, a dry-point etcher or a metaphysician.It is, indeed, amazing to contemplate so vast a vacuity.His peculiar qualities have a high social value, and are esteemed. And furthermore, this superiority at the top is ever-so faintly reflected in the conduct of the lesser multitudes in their manners, their “civility.” And in their worst aspects the ignorant masses of the South are seen as suffering corruption from an alien influence: The tone of public opinion is set by an upstart class but lately emerged from industrial slavery into commercial enterprise—the class of “hustling” business men, of “live wires,” of commercial club luminaries, of “drive” managers, of forward-lookers and right-thinkers—in brief of third-rate Southerners inoculated with all the worst traits of the Yankee sharper. The philistinism of the new type of town-boomer Southerner is not only indifferent to the ideals of the Old South; it is positively antagonistic to them…It is inconceivably hollow and obnoxious.One observes the curious effects of an old tradition of truculence upon a population now merely pushful and impudent, of an old tradition of chivalry upon a population now quite without imagination. What remains of the ancient tradition is simply a certain charming civility in private intercourse—often broken down, alas, by the hot rages of intolerance, but still generally visible.